Adolescent Responses to Televised Beer Advertisements:
Children of Alcoholics and Others


Acknowledgements * Summary * Introduction * Background * Survey Methodology * Findings * Discussion * Conclusion * Recommendations * Footnotes




With just five television beer commercials as test instruments, this pilot study only scratches the surface in describing the effects of televised beer advertising on adolescent children of alcoholics and other young teenagers.  While the findings are inconclusive about the harmful impact of alcohol advertising on children of alcoholics and other teens, we identified several areas for concern.


In particular, we are troubled that, on average, 45% of the adolescents surveyed thought that characters in the ads were consuming beer at binge-drinking levels, and only one in five thought that drinkers would stop after one or two drinks.  In addition, two subgroups -- children of alcoholics and younger participants -- appear to be especially vulnerable to messages delivered by the ads.


Children of alcoholics were more likely than other respondents to perceive excessive drinking by characters in the ads, to have more favorable perceptions of these drinkers, to report more negative feelings triggered by the ads about the drinkers they know personally, and to anticipate that good things will happen to them if they drink later in life.


While younger adolescents were more aware of the potential negative consequences of drinking, they were also more likely than older respondents to perceive binge drinking, and to estimate that characters were underage.


Clearly, more research is needed on alcohol advertising.  Nonetheless, this exploratory effort and previous studies demonstrate sufficiently that teenagers, whether they are the intended targets of ads or not, pay attention to and are influenced by televised beer advertising.  For that reason, we make the following recommendations, which we believe will reduce the pressure on young people to drink and help relieve some of the ambiguity and confusion that children of alcoholics face in confronting the role of alcohol in their lives.


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Center for Science in the Public Interest

1220 L St., NW, #300

Washington, DC 20005

(202) 332-9110 ext. 385

Children of Alcoholics Foundation, Inc.

164 West 74th Street

New York, NY 10023

(212) 595-2553 ext. 7760


July 1996



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